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The Diploma Programme at The British International School

24 August 2017

Firstly, I want to extend a very warm welcome to all Year 12 students beginning the Diploma Programme as well as a warm welcome back to Year 13 students who are returning for an important year in their studies.

  • CAS

This academic year I am taking over from Andrew Joy as the Head of the IB Academy. Having already spent three years as the IBDP Coordinator, I am looking forward to continuing the development of this already well-established and rewarding programme.

From the very beginning we are looking to instil a growth mind-set in students in both year groups. For Year 13s, we are supporting them in producing an outstanding Extended Essay as well as target set for the upcoming year. For Year 12 students, they too have set themselves targets for this year as well as reflect on their personal characteristics as compared with the IB Learner Profile. We want to encourage all students in both Year 12 and Year 13 to push themselves an extra few percent in each area to make many marginal gains which will combine into one big overall improvement.  

I want to highlight, each week, how you can support your son or daughter at home in pushing this extra few percent.


Year 13

This week they have handed in the first draft of their Extended Essay. On Friday 18th August I delivered an assembly highlighting the marking criteria for this work and where they can access it in order to help mould their essay from good to great. The link below is to the marking criteria. It explains how an essay can meet the top mark in each section (there are 5 sections, A-E):


Year 12

Before they started their first lesson as an IBDP student, I explained to students how this may feel like the same experience of going to different lessons but they must take more responsibility for what they do outside of class. Most have several study periods each week and this time must be used wisely and planned for. At home you can help your son or daughter to plan these sessions and find websites, articles, podcasts or other that can help them in each subject. When they have some time spare they can use these resources to make the most of it. This is what a growth mind-set student will do.

Finally I would like to take this opportunity to welcome a new member of staff to the IB Academy team. Emma Nolan joins us assisting in the HE department as well as helping to mentor a few students in Year 13. Below she introduces herself to you.


I graduated from the University Of Glamorgan in South Wales, with a Law degree and immediately embarked on a PGCE Primary at the University of South Wales. I have taught in a number of Primary schools across both Foundation and Key Stage two phases, quickly gaining leadership roles in Special Educational Needs, IT, Building Learning Power and Curriculum Design.  In the UK for the past 7 years, I have been a Head Teacher of a large multi-cultural primary school with over 92% of pupils having English as an Additional Language(EAL), and have lectured on the Masters degree programme for Education Management and Leadership in this area.

During my time as a Head Teacher I embraced the theory of ‘Everyone a Leader’ and provided real opportunities for students, teachers and learning support assistants to impact educational change, without necessarily leaving the classroom.  Her students and staff are now serving as research colleagues, peer mentors, working as advisor-mentors to new teachers, and facilitating professional development activities as master teachers.  My strength lies in my ability to coach and mentor both students and colleagues to engage in complexity, and achieve successful learning for all through positive emotional engagement which informs motivation and sustainability.

I hope this year we can work well together in order to make the experience for your children and our students a great one with fantastic outcomes.

Thomas Housham, Head of IB Academy


Diploma Programme Deadlines

Each week we will publish the deadlines for students so you can help support them at home. Below are the deadlines for this week and next. It is extremely important students stick to these as they have been carefully arranged to make the Diploma Programme manageable. Year 12 deadlines will start after the Christmas holiday.


Description of Work

Date due

Extended Essay

First draft due for non-science Extended Essays

21st August


First draft of IA (section A and B only)

21st August

Mathematics HL

Peer assessment of 1st draft (bring to class)

23rd August

Chinese B SL

Interactive Oral

24th August

English A: Lang and Lit HL

Written task 1/2 1st draft based on part 4

25th August

English A: Lang and Lit SL

Written task 1 1st draft based on part 4

25th August

Mathematics HL

Draft of Exploration for teacher comments

28th August


Creativity, Activity, Service News

As we enter the new academic year, our Year 13 students get a chance to reflect on their CAS trip to Cambodia.  After each trip to Cambodia every year, one of the things I look forward to is reading our student’s reflections and what they learnt from the trip.  All students have learnt and taken from this experience things which I hope they will cherish and build on in their own lives.  It is a memorable trip and hopefully one that they will look back on in many years to come.  Here, Sukhmani Bahra reflects on her own experience. 

Cambodia Reflection – Sukhmani Bahra 

Over the course of the trip I truly learnt how to persevere and commit to activities. This came from having to carry out certain tasks in difficult situations and challenging conditions. For example, in Camp Beng Pae we completed numerous hours of manual labour by building toilets and wells for the local community. We did these outside in high temperatures which increased our risk of dehydration, however it was easily prevented by drinking large amounts of water throughout the day. This was very tough, although I was driven to continue the work because I knew the beneficial impacts it would have on the families. As a result, I noticed how committed I was and I persevered with this part of the trip. Building these structures was special to me and I was happy to do it because it meant we were providing a better lifestyle for less fortunate people.

The families we met in the local community of the camp had a huge impact on my experience. This is because their lives in comparison to mine made me feel very grateful, appreciative and humbled to have been born with the lifestyle and opportunities I have now. Meeting them also motivated me to work harder during the construction we did as it would have improved their day to day lives and made them easier. It was also very touching to see how happy they were despite the everyday struggles they faced, and this was due to the strong communal bond they shared between the families. They allowed me to engage with issues of global significance such as poverty, which is something I try to involve myself into more. Furthermore, my friends played a role in influencing my experience. Without them, there would have been no teamwork which is key in a CAS project and also demonstrates collaborative skills. They accomplished the building work we did in the camp alongside me which helped me strive harder. It was also rewarding to have done such an advantageous project with them and we could share the proud feeling we endured afterwards.

One of the most challenging things I did was visiting the war museum and killing fields. It was extremely heart breaking and emotionally painful to see the horrors that occurred in Cambodia during that time. I found it hard to believe that the drastic event occurred not even that long ago. It made me again very thankful that I did not have to experience anything like this, but also allowed me to learn about their history and so my respect for the country on a whole increased.

I think I have learnt the importance of engaging in experiences which deal with global issues. Therefore, I will try to involve myself in more activities that include working with the community. For example, I am to join the migrant school ECA as it means I will be working with the migrant children. In addition, I feel I will take greater advantage of opportunities I get offered and try to participate in more because currently I think I am taking some for granted.

One thing I have learnt about myself is that I thoroughly enjoy working directly with different communities. A highlight of the adventure for me was when we went from family to family to learn about their lifestyle and any challenges they face. It was very interesting to see how different their lives were to mine and I was very keen to know. This made me realise how intrigued I am by the stories that people have to tell about encounters and events they have experienced.


Higher Education News

­­Welcome back to all Year 12 and Year 13 students! The Higher Education team is very much looking forward to working with students and parents this year, and to guiding and advising students towards a route to higher education that is right for them. We are also very lucky to be joined this term by Ms Nolan, our new Higher Education Advisor.

University Destinations

Congratulations to our Year 13 students who will be embarking on their university studies over the next few months. So far, students have confirmed their places at a number of prestigious institutions around the world, including ‘World Top 50’ universities such the University of Cambridge, University College London, Hong Kong University, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  A number of students are awaiting decisions from universities in Korea, Germany and Australia, so we will keep you updated with any new developments over the coming months.

What I did in the holidays …

During July this year I represented BISS Puxi at a conference in the USA, where I met university admissions representatives and other Higher Education Advisers from all over the world, and attended sessions on helping to advise and guide students applying to universities in the UK, the USA, Europe and Asia. This was followed by a whistle-stop tour of 18 US universities in 8 days, something that gave me a great insight into the admissions processes at a wide variety of institutions, varying from large state universities to small liberal arts colleges. Any students wishing to discuss any aspect of the universities that I visited are welcome to come and have a chat with me about them:  Case Western Reserve University, John Carroll University, Cleveland State University, Oberlin College, Baldwin Wallace University, Kent State University, Hiram College, Allegheny College, Chatham University, University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Washington and Jefferson University, Denison University, Ohio State University, Otterbein University, Ohio Wesleyan University, Kenyon College, College of Wooster.

Tasks for the start of Year 13/ Important Dates and Deadlines

This term is a busy term for Year 13 student applications, but the office is always open for students from all year groups (and their parents) to discuss future plans and Higher Education options.

Year 13 students have been set three tasks to complete for the start of this term (which can be found on Managebac):

  • Completing Self-Assessment Forms.
  • Researching and Compiling a List of Universities.
  • Writing a Draft Personal Statement/Common App Essay.

Timely completion of these tasks (where required) will ensure that university applications are finished in good time and are the best that they can be!

Mark Weston, Head of HE Guidance


Pastoral News

A big welcome back to those students who are now continuing their IBDP journey in year 13 and a warm welcome to all the year 12 students who are embarking on a fantastic two year course.  As always students are getting back to their routines and dealing with a lot of information about subjects, CAS, TOK, deadlines and administration aspects of the school.  Next week, once things have settled, students will be working on their CAS portfolios via Managebac as well as participating in other form time activities.  Year 13 will be working on an extended essay task involving using the marking criteria in order to help their understanding for their own extended essay.  Year 12 students will be self-assessing themselves against the IB Learner Profile, which is something they will revisit later in the year to compare their progress.     

With such an intense one or two years coming up for the students it is important that I reiterate the support that is there for the students to help them to, not only succeed, but thrive.  As with last year, I am again the KS5 coordinator, focusing on providing pastoral support for the students and their well-being. I look forward to working with the students to ensure they are keeping well balanced and getting the most out of their IB Diploma years.

Angela Sharrock,  Key Stage 5 coordinator